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Mobile Devices and Applications for Health; an Exploratory Review of the Current Evidence with Public Health Perspective

Alireza Ahmadvand, Ahmad Fayaz-Bakhsh
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Abstract

Advances in mobile phone technology help in assessment, education and service provision for the benefit of public health. Mobile health solutions have been successful in transformation of service delivery – especially in resource-poor settings. But challenges arise from “patchwork of incompatible applications serving narrow, albeit valuable, needs”. We assessed available evidence on advantages of mobile devices and applications for the purpose of health improvement, considering a public health perspective. We reviewed the articles published in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Ovid from 2010 backwards according to their study design, population, objectives and findings. We then classified them according to World Health Organization’s health system building blocks, objectives, and roadmaps. Twenty five out of 43 articles met our inclusion criteria. Research experiences were still passing through their developmental phases and needed much harmonization to health system goals and objectives at large. The subjects that had been experienced in addition to the study designs varied widely. A substantial lack of higher-level evidence existed, especially in the form of well-designed trials. It is the responsibility of healthcare researchers to advocate for better study types and also a requirement for experts from information technology enterprise to get more insight into the nature of health system when planning a research on mobile health.

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